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22 May 2017
Ahead of the judging process for finalists in early September, we speak to some of the judges from the Smith and Williamson Scale-up business of the year category, for advice and top tips on what they are looking for in a winning entry. The judges include:
Titus Sharpe, Co-founder and President of MVF
Mike Clare, Chairman at Clarenco LLP
David Spencer-Percival, Co-Founder of Spencer Ogden
What would you say to businesses looking to enter the Scale-Up category at this year's awards?
Titus: I would say go for it! Awards are a great way to publicise your business's success and to recognise the hard work of your teams. The scale-up category promotes businesses which are in a really exciting phase of growth and that is definitely something that should be celebrated.
Mike: Good luck! It is a great opportunity to benchmark your business against others within your sector and outside your sector. I would recommend that you take time to examine the entry criteria and check that you clearly meet the brief.
David: Scale up can take a few different forms: Sales / staff / product lines. If you feel your business has taken a leap to a whole new level in any of these categories (no matter what size) then you should enter. Scaling up isn't about size it's about risk. Scale up shows courage and ability to manage risk. It shows a pure form of entrepreneurial spirit.
What will you be looking for in a winning entry?
Titus: In order for businesses to experience this sort of fast growth, it is always a combination of innovation, clear vision and developing a great culture - I really want to get a feel for all of that - the whole picture of the business. I would just suggest that on top of the facts and figures, make sure you try to convey the people behind the success and those special little details that make your business unique.
Mike: Make sure that you explain clearly and early on:
David: To win this award I am looking for a business that can demonstrate both statistically and practically how they scaled up the business and why they did it / when they did it and the results of that risk they took. Also what the future looks like.
Any tips for businesses who enter?
Titus: My only advice really is to try to enjoy it - this is a chance to take in everything you have achieved over the last year and share that with other people. See it as a celebration of your hard work.
Mike: It is not just a business plan; entry needs to address the qualifying criteria. Judges need to be engaged quickly. Don't get too techie!
David: Take time to explain why you should win this in the entry form. If you get to the judges presentations come prepared with a good sharp presentation and be prepared to be questioned. But come with conviction and confidence.
Following Brexit and the economy's current climate, what do you think are the biggest challenges for scale-up business?
Titus: Obviously the uncertainty at the moment does present potential challenges for businesses both in terms of exporting and attracting the best talent to the UK, but one of the key things that differentiates entrepreneurs is adaptability and being able to keep your business agile in a changing market.
Mike: Financial uncertainties around trading with the EU and the long term future of the City of London. Further challenges would be the impact of inflation on the economy and future interest rate rises. Recruitment of the necessary skills and expertise from inside and outside the UK, will also be problematic.
David: If you have a good product, a great management team and can fund growth, it doesn't matter what political or economic turbulence is happening. Besides Brexit will have its upsides- it's just finding them and capitalising on them. Don't be a sheep. Sheep get slaughtered. Be a wolf.
Why is entering the National Business Awards good for a business?
Titus: The National Business Awards is recognised as one of the most prestigious accolades in the UK. To win is a huge achievement for your business but most of all it is great for everyone in your company to be able to celebrate their hard work and get recognition for contributing to your success.
Mike: The awards give you an opportunity to benchmark the business against its peers and competitors, as well as promote the business by exposure to a wider audience, through the networking opportunities provided.
David: It's the countries' top business award and very prestigious. You are not being judged by your peers in sector but by the entire of the UK business community. Winning will mean a huge PR lift for you, and your staff will be proud to work for an award winning company.